Two things.

I recently finished a book on writing (thanks for awesomely thoughtful b-day gift, Brother) that managed to bring light to the craft of artfully arranged words as it came to much as it came to inform my approach to, well, life. It turns out the brilliant Anne Lamott, who is as insightful as she is clever, has much wisdom to pass on to her students and her readers. We ask, “So why does our writing matter, again?” And she replies:

Because of the spirit, I say. Because of the heart. Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.

Oh, and here are some recent images from my travels to coastal Oregon:

While I have not been writing

I have been reading. Filling my brain with musings and often-heavy thoughts.

While I’ve not been writing, I’ve been embracing what Seattle calls summer, enjoying a now daily shower of warm, glorious sun.  I’ve been dreaming, exploring, and biking. Making new friends, catching up with old ones, and falling in love all over again. I’ve been tending to an ever-so-modest garden, sitting by water, finding messages in bottles and tossing them back to sea. I’ve been sweating and sunning and hiking all over this damn town. Eating fruit like it’s my job and selling it (with a smile) five days a week.

Most days I wake up with a grin on my face and a skip in my step. I see clearly the awesomeness I’m enveloped in and can’t fathom feeling anything but blessed. Other days I wake up in a cloud of gray, despite the disgustingly clear sky that hangs overhead. I wallow, fill my head with nasty mental clamor and trudge to work, all the while aware of the useless, disturbing, and essentially voluntary process taking place. It’s almost as if outside of me (this flesh?), there exists a separate witness shaking her head and checking her watch to see just when I’ll be finished with all of the bullshit.

This observer just takes it all in, sighs, and witnesses the judgment, self-limitation, and all of the mental clutter stacking up in my precious brain space. It’s a funny place to exist in, this space in which I’m mostly aware of the ghastly patterns I perpetuate by thought and action, yet barring from that which will ultimately bring relief: non-judgment, equanimity, and really, the simple ability to just sit my ass down and let my incessant thinking cease for a while.

Alas, I cannot. I do not. I contemplate what I should have for breakfast within the depths of my daily asana practice. I lie awake at night, reflecting upon my day or the years of decisions and actions that have led up to this moment. I tell myself daily that I need to sit, need to breath and simply. Find. Stillness. I then pin myself down for a whopping three minutes and ultimately wrestle my way back off the mat, everything still moving, shifting, whirling around inside of me.

This may stop some day. (I tell myself this, just as I tell myself that I’ll someday have the self-control to walk away from a chocolate bar.) I may edge closer and closer to what some call enlightenment and others call liberation or Samadhi. Or, more likely, I may just keep doing this, living with as much awareness as I can muster and finding in each day or moment a bead in which to string, one after another after another. I’ll continue to find peace in fleeting moments. On a bike, in the grass, or while stacking stone fruit. I’ll keep on keeping on, working and living and loving, doing my best to find what in essence amounts to nothing much at all. Just simplicity. Just stillness. Just quiet.